Poster Presentation 64th International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association 2015

Disease risk analysis for the captive management of the critically endangered Western Ground Parrot (Pezoporus flaviventris) (#191)

Simone Vitali 1 , Abby Berryman 2 , Arthur Ferguson 1
  1. Perth Zoo, South Perth, WA, Australia
  2. Department of Parks and Wildlife, Perth, WA, Australia

The Western Ground Parrot (Pezoporus flaviventris) is a critically endangered medium-sized parrot. There are fewer than 140 Western Ground Parrots left in the wild in two conservation reserves on the south coast of Western Australia.
In 2009 and 2010, a total of 10 wild individuals were brought into captivity by the Department of Parks and Wildlife to develop husbandry techniques and explore the prospects of a breeding for release program. Although there were some breeding attempts, these were unsuccessful and in 2014, the remaining individuals (3 females and 4 males) were transferred to Perth Zoo for ongoing breeding attempts.
A disease risk analysis was undertaken in preparation for bringing the first birds into captivity. A second analysis was undertaken in 2013 in preparation for the transfer of remaining individuals to Perth Zoo. While the diseases under consideration changed little from 2009 to 2013, the relocation to a zoo environment presented a number of new potential avenues of disease risk to birds.
The 2013 review addressed a range of biosecurity risks to the parrots, including: location and health status of other psittacine species in the zoo collection; exposure to free-ranging bird species; health status of local free-ranging psittacines; keeping staff involvement with husbandry of other zoo animals. The review resulted in the implementation of a pre- and post-arrival disease screening plan, a quarantine plan and post-quarantine procedures for ongoing biosecurity.
The early involvement of personnel with expertise in psittacine health and captive husbandry, as well as the biology of the species in the wild, was instrumental in achieving a robust ongoing plan for biosecurity for this captive population. Excellent communication with all stakeholders was critical to the prompt development of the disease risk analysis and effective implementation of its recommendations.